Finsbury Park electricity substation is approved – campaigners claim fears have been ignored

Plans for the substation

Plans for the substation - Credit: Archant

A decision to grant planning permission for an electricity substation has been slammed as “disgraceful” after residents claimed their fears had been ignored.

Islington Council agreed an application by National Grid to redevelop a two-acre site in Seven Sisters Road at the junction with Hornsey Road into a substation and flats at a town hall meeting on Thursday September 5.

The site sits next door to the Andover estate and is just yards from Montem Primary School.

Residents had repeatedly voiced their fears over the plans including concern over a four metre high wall, health risk and a top height for the substation of three-and-a-half storeys.

Richard Schuneman, who lives in the estate, said: “We have really been hung out to dry on this. The community has not been satisfactorily reassured on a number of issues and we feel we have been betrayed.

“It is quite disgraceful the decision was agreed. We are going to have a great big wall that is going to make everyone feel like they are living in a prison.

“There will also be a massive electricity substation is going to be running just yards from where children sleep and play. There is a real concern for health with the potential for Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs).”

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EMFs are produced wherever electricity is used – including household appliances – and although no ill effects have yet been discovered, there is still uncertainty around the science.

The substation will sit on the site of old Red Rose Labour Party club and the plans also include the creation of new housing with 44 new homes – half of which would be affordable.

Mr Schuneman, 57, said the council should have got more out of the developers and issued a rallying call to objectors.

He said: “The fight is not over for us yet. We are looking at all the options open to us and that includes taking this decision to a judicial review.”

A spokesman for National Grid said that for safety reasons the boundary wall could not be any lower than four metres.

He added that the level of Electric Magnetic Fields produced by the substation would be less than three per cent of Government guidelines.

The spokesman said: “The decision to approve the application is the culmination of a rigorous design process over two and a half years which has seen the substation evolve from a standard build into a bespoke design, employing the latest technology and engineering to reduce its height and size.”

Cllr Robert Khan, chair of the planning committee, said: “The council strenuously objected to the principle of having a substation on this site, as we would have strongly preferred it all to be given over entirely to much needed new affordable housing for local residents. But in the teeth of this, the Government Inspector ruled that it should go ahead.

“Although it’s not our preferred option, we’ve worked hard to make sure that residents’ views have been represented and to ensure it will provide strong benefits for the local area.””